Bulgogi Kimchee Pizza

Are you ready to have your world rocked? The very foundation of all beliefs shaken? This pizza might do just that.

If you like Korean food (Yum!) and Pizza (who doesn’t), then this bizarre creation might just become your new favorite indulgence. Bulgogi Kimchee Pizza does sound crazy, but I promise your mouth will thank you for nibbling on such a weirdly delicious treat. Weeks ago I stumbled upon a vague recipe for this pizza and the idea sort of lodged itself in the back of my brain waiting for the right moment to act. Judd loves bulgogi, so I knew swaying him into this adventurous undertaking would not be difficult. So, this past Sunday we decided to have a low key day… watched a little Women’s World Cup Soccer (Oh USA, sigh), lazed about the house, and made pizza. We started by marinating thinly sliced sirloin in a delightfully easy bulgogi sauce. The meat alone was a winner and promised only good things for the pizza’s final outcome. Once you cook the meat and sauté the spinach, all that is left to do is assemble the pie. We picked up the Trader Joe’s pizza dough (in a bag) and began forming our crust. Top the dough with tomato sauce (and a few pinches of kosher salt), grated fresh mozzeralla, sautéed spinach and onions, kimchee and bulgogi beef. Pop the beautiful disk of goodness into the oven and 15 minutes later you have heaven on a plate. Seriously… heaven.

The USA might have lost to Japan on Sunday, but in our house, Korea was the real winner. Well done Bulgogi Kimchee Pizza. Well Done.

Bulgogi Marinade:

This makes enough for the pizza and leftovers!

1 lb. of thinly sliced rib-eye steak purchased from a Korean market. Or you can slice your own rib-eye or sirloin steak across the grain in paper thin slices.
1/3 cup tamari or soy sauce
3 tablespoons white sugar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 of a medium yellow onion, halved and sliced into slivers
2 green onions including the white parts, finely sliced
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 pinches black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ginger, finely minced

Whisk all the ingredients together in a medium bowl except beef and onions. When most of the sugar has dissolved, add beef and onion slices to the bowl and massage the marinade with your hands into each slice of beef. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. To pan fry, place a few slices of beef in single layers and completely flat on a hot oiled frying pan and fry each side until cooked, medium, about 3 minutes per side.

Bulgogi Kimchee Pizza:

Makes 8 slices

Store pre-made fresh pizza dough (we used Trader Joe’s)
8 ounces tomato sauce
2 pinches kosher salt
5 ounces fresh mozzarella, grated
2 cups uncooked spinach, stems removed
Store bough Kimchee
1/2 lb. beef bulgogi (see recipe above)
Semolina or white flour

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Follow the instructions of the store bought dough. Form dough into 12″ disk. Top with tomato sauce and kosher salt. Spread until evenly coating top of dough. Add mozzarella, sautéed spinach and onions (from bulgogi recipe), kimchee and beef bulgogi. Toss semolina flour directly onto the pizza stone, bake 10-15 minutes or until crust is golden and cheese is bubbling.

Slice, dig in and ENJOY!

Rosemary Steak Florentine

Tomorrow marks the first day of summer as well as the longest day of the year! It will actually be hot in San Francisco this Summer Solstice, which got me thinking about barbecues and meat. We all know those two words are synonymous with one another and the perfect combo for a damn tasty meal… so, in honor of summer and the many BBQ’s to come, I thought I would whip out the big guns and share my new favorite steak preparation.

I understand that this simple marinade and steak dressing might not be new to everyone, but I can assure you that my taste buds were a flutter when I was first introduced to olive oil poured on steak. My lovely cousins to be, Ian and Masha, grilled up some T-bones and unabashedly drenched their steaks in a nice heap of rich oil. Judd and I were immediately converted! Deciding to give this new found recipe a go, we lathered some raw steaks in extra virgin olive oil, fresh rosemary and salt and pepper. Voila… we had ourselves an AMAZING piece of grilled tasty! Because we are BBQ-less (sadly) we cooked these steaks in a pan, but I want all you summertime grillers to go for the gusto and pop ’em on an open flame.

There is only one rule you must adhere to when making this dish… there is no such thing as too much olive oil, so ahead…. pour a little more on, crack open a beer and enjoy the beauty of summer.

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped rosemary
Two 1-pound steaks, about 2 inches thick
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons coarsely ground pepper

In a sturdy resealable plastic bag or baking dish, combine the olive oil and the rosemary. Season the steaks with salt and pepper and add to the marinade. Let the steaks marinate for 1 hour or refrigerate over night.

Heat a grill pan. Grill over moderately high heat until nicely charred on the top and bottom, about 5-8 minutes per side. Alternatively, build a fire on one side of a charcoal grill or light a gas grill. Grill the steak over moderate heat for 5 minutes on each side. Transfer the steak to the cool side of the grill, close the lid and cook for 5-10 minutes longer. Transfer the steak to a carving board and let rest for 10 minutes. Slice the steak across the grain and serve immediately.

Damn Tasty Stuffed Peppers

This week’s new food adventure… stuffed peppers! I literally have not had stuffed peppers since I was 5 years old. In fact, I remember sitting at the kitchen table feigning sickness so as not to be forced to eat the strange meat stuffed vegetable sitting before me. Twenty-five years later, I have a more sophisticated palette (I should hope so!) and when Judd suggested stuffed peppers this week, I thought, yeah, let’s prove 5 year old Estee and her lame taste buds wrong!

After perusing the internet for some recipe inspiration, we came up with a damn tasty version that incorporated things we had sitting in our fridge. Arguably, the most important ingredient in this recipe is the pepper. The star of the show, so to speak. We came across some truly beautiful and behemoth red peppers at the market that allowed for maximum stuff-age… and filled them to the brim we did! When it came to cooking the meat, we both agreed that beef cooked in a skillet tastes better than beef steamed inside a pepper in the oven. The flavor of the onions and garlic sauteed in savory spices of basil, sage and marjoram tricked our noses into thinking we were cooking in an Italian grandmother’s kitchen. The spinach and red pepper chunks added color and bite while making this meal feel more complete by incorporating vegetables into the goulash. Add some tomato sauce and rice and you could eat this hearty filling straight from the pan (we might have had a few nibbles). Because all the ingredients were cooked on the stove, it only took 10-15 minutes for the stuffed peppers to warm in the oven, further allowing delicious flavors to meld.

Based on the emptiness of my plate, I would say I like stuffed peppers. Take that 5 year old me!

Makes 4 servings (we halved the recipe and made 2 peppers)

1 1/2 to 2 cups cooked brown rice (starting from about 3/4 to 1 cup raw white rice)
4  large bell peppers (red, yellow, or green)
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 to 1 1/4 lb of ground beef (ground chuck, 20% fat)
6 large fresh basil leaves, chopped (or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil)
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
1/2 teaspoon ground marjoram
1/2 dried red pepper flakes
2 cups fresh spinach (a few big handfuls)
The caps of the red peppers, diced
8 ounces tomato sauce, or more to taste
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated parmigiano reggiano (optional)

Cook rice on stovetop or in rice cooker (1 cup of raw brown rice plus 2 cups of water, bring to boil, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 30 minutes or until tender.)

Cut the tops off of the bell peppers. Remove and discard the stem and seeds. Cut the meat off the pepper into bitesize pieces around the stem. Set aside. Place bell peppers cut side up on a steaming basket over an inch of water in a large covered pot. Bring to boil, let steam for 10 minutes.

In a skillet over medium high heat, cook meat until brown. In an another large skillet, saute onion in oil over medium high heat. Once the onions become translucent, about 5-8 minutes, add basil, sage, majoram and red pepper flakes. Add cooked meat and red pepper chunks to the onion mixture. Fold spinach into skillet, cook until just wilted, about 2 minutes. Pour in tomato sauce and let simmer for a few minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in rice until incorporated.

Heat oven to 350°F. Remove bell peppers from steamer pan. Place cut side up in a pyrex or other oven-proof casserole. Gently stuff the peppers with the ground beef rice mixture. Finely grate fresh parmigiano reggiano over top of each pepper until evenly coated.

Place on middle rack and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until cheese is brown and peppers are sweating.

Chimichurri Steak Kebabs

In our house, dinner menus are often dictated by cravings. This week, Judd was feeling steak kebabs. We never have steak kebabs. In fact, I am not sure I have ever made kebabs loaded with delicious carnivorous meat. I’ve also never made a chimichurri sauce… well, first time for everything I suppose.

The chimichurri was as bright in flavor as it was in color! The cilantro and lime were full of citrusy zest, while the red pepper flakes and dried oregano added heat and earthiness. Once combined with the red wine vinegar and oil olive… I knew we had a winner! We loaded up the skewers with green bell pepper and red onion and popped these bad boys on the grill. The fragrance was awesome and left our house smelling like grilled mediterranean meats for the next day (yum!).

In my opinion, nothing tastes better than simple grilled vegetables, so we threw some fresh asparagus on the fire alongside the meat and let salt, pepper and olive oil work their magic. I recommend serving this dish with Couscous with Cilantro and Lemon Juice. The flavor profiles are consistent, but offer enough variation that I promise, you will be loading up your folk with a little bit of everything. Glob a little hummus on your plate and dinner is served!

Makes 4 servings (9-10 kebabs)

1 pound steak, cut into 1″ cubes
1 bell pepper (color of your choice), seeded and cut into 1″ cubes
1 red onion, cut into wedges

For marinade
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt (coarse ground)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, fresh coarse ground
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lime juice
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil

Make marinade
Combine garlic, salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, and oregano in a medium bowl. Add cilantro. Whisk in red wine vinegar and lime juice.  Slowly whisk in olive oil to emulsify.

Pour over the steak, peppers and red onion, coat well and marinate for 30 minutes to an 1 hour.

Assemble the kebabs, alternating bell pepper, red onion and steak with 3-4 pieces of meat on each kebab. *Note: soak skewers in water to prevent them from burning on the grill.

Heat grill or grill pan (we cooked ours on the stove griddle). Cook kebabs for 5-8 minutes, rotating skewers so all sides cook evenly. Cooking times may vary due to your grill.

Beef and Barley Stew with Mushrooms and Aromatic Vegetables

Fall has certainly arrived. It’s my favorite time of year… the air is crisp, cozy knit sweaters have been pulled from dresser drawers and Sundays just beg for something to be bubbling away on the stove. Now, I am not much of a stew maven, but this recipe seemed too irresistible to pass up and WOW was I ever right. Having recently discovered the joy of barley with all its nutty flavor, this stew had all the makings of a delicious dinner. I added some carrots (because really, is it soup without carrots?) for color and bite. The crusty bread is a must if you want to sop up all the beefy goodness at the bottom of your bowl. Nom.

You’ll be pleasantly surprised when you take a peek after an hour or so. The stew is so fragrant, my entire apartment smelled wonderfully of slow cooked hearty meat and vegetables.

Makes 6-8 servings

2 pounds chuck or round beef roast, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 medium onions, diced
8-10 ounces mushrooms (1 package)
3 celery stalks, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried or fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup red wine
2 cups beef stock
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup barley
salt and pepper

Film the bottom of a large dutch oven with olive oil and set over medium-high heat until the oil is hot. Working in batches, add a single layer of meat to the bottom of the pan. Let it sit for 2-3 minutes until the cubes loosen and are seared golden brown. Flip the cubes and sear the other sides. When all sides are seared, remove the meat to a clean bowl or plate. Sear the remaining meat in batches. If there is any liquid in the pot after the last batch is finished, pour it over the meat.

Heat one teaspoon of olive oil in the pan and cook the onions with a pinch of salt until they are translucent and brown around the edges. Add the mushrooms and another pinch of salt, and cook until they have released all the moisture and have turned golden-brown. Add the celery and carrots and cook until just softened.

Clear a space in the middle of the vegetables and sauté the garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the thyme and bay leaf, and stir all the seasonings into the vegetables.

Pour the wine into the pan to deglaze, scraping up all the browned bits from the bottom of the pan as the wine bubbles. Let the wine reduce down until most of it has evaporated or been absorbed by the veggies.

Add the meat and any drippings back to the pot. Pour in the stocks and top with enough water to cover the meat and veggies (about a half an inch). Add a pinch of fresh ground black pepper. Bring the stew to a boil, then reduce the heat to very low.

Cover the pot and let it simmer for 1 hour. Add the barley and cook for another hour or so until the barley is cooked and the meat is almost falling apart . Check by piercing with a fork. The meat should flake about with pressure.  Taste the soup and add salt and pepper as desired.

Serve in individual bowls with a piece of crusty bread to sop up the broth. Leftovers will keep refrigerated for one week.

Slurp!